Ellen Cromwell is a mom of four and a grandmother of seven…but to all of us…she is the mother of Georgetown Hill Early School, and Georgetown Hill is almost 40 years old! Before Georgetown Hill was founded, Ellen taught and directed preschool programs in Rockville MD when “preschool” (as opposed to babysitting or daycare) was a novel concept. Working families did not have to choose between a developmentally appropriate early education experience for their child and the loving care like they would receive at home. Ellen provided both.
In 1980, Ellen was asked by the principal to develop and teach a “complement” to the half day public kindergarten program at Georgetown Hill Elementary School (now known as The Ivymount School in Potomac). It didn’t take long for parents to start to notice that their child was blooming as much…if not more…in the “other half” of public-school kindergarten. Ellen created a classroom where children became eager learners…excited about life and friendships. Further, Ellen encouraged and celebrated play as the highest form of learning.
She knew that rich play experiences meant more to children than a worksheet ever will. Georgetown Hill educators firmly hold that belief to this day.
During these early years, Ellen wrote her first book, Feathers in My Cap: Early reading Through Experience, outlining her early literacy program. This program is unique because for the first time, teachers of young children had a practical guide to developing emerging readers- ready for kindergarten and beyond.
The county closed Georgetown Hill Elementary School in 1982 because of budget cuts, but Ellen continued the legacy of the Georgetown Hill Owls and leased space at various public schools in Potomac until she finally secured state and private funding and built Georgetown Hill’s first school of its own in Bells Mill Road in Potomac.
Her next two books, Quality Child Care: A Comprehensive Guide for Administrator and Teachers (1994) and Nurturing Readiness In Early Childhood Education (2000) solidified the PLAN Curriculum that Georgetown Hill uses today.
Ellen is a teacher first. Despite building a thriving, woman-led, not-for-profit business…her heart has always been first with children. She taught pre-kindergarten and kindergarten at our Bells Mill and Woodley Gardens campuses for thirty years before retiring from teaching in 2014. Today, she enjoys her second career as a children’s book author. Her stories remind us of the joyful and kind spirit of young children and are enjoyed by multiple generations.
Georgetown Hill is proud to continue the legacy of Ellen Cromwell and her loving, play-centered and content-rich curriculum.